Male models shine in new calendar

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Hundreds of women are happier this year, and they’re checking their calendars often.

That’s due to their discovery of the 21st Century Skins Native American Men’s Calendar, which features an array of handsome film stars. Tribes represented include Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Blackfoot and Wichita.

Gracing the cover of this year’s edition is Kalani Queypo, Blackfoot/Hawaiian Native, who played Parahunt in New Line Cinema’s “The New World,” and White Bird in the TNT mini-series, “Into the West.”

Alex Meraz, Purepecha, who plays the role of a warrior in “The New World,” is the model for April and September.

Also featured are Tatanka Means, Lakota/Navajo, who stars as Crazy Horse in “Into the West” as well as actors David Midthunder, Lakota/Dakota/

Nakota, and Jeremiah Bitsui, Navajo/Omaha, who also appear in the film.

“In a society saturated with female models, Viewfinder Photographs and Tatanka Means Inc. decided to make a calendar that features some of the hottest Native male models and actors from across North America,” Shaunya Manus, publication coordinator, said.

She and her husband, Mihio, worked with Means to get the project off the ground.

“My husband has been shooting models for quite some time,” Manus, a Navajo communications student at Northern Arizona University, said. “He shot a couple of women calendars, an older women’s edition, and a Native women’s swimsuit calendar. While selling [them], we had a lot of people asking for a men’s calendar.”

Means talked to some of his contacts in the film businesses about it, and they agreed the project is a good way for the men to promote their careers.

“A lot of the guys found it really interesting and exciting,” Manus said.

Queypo was working on “Into the West,” last summer when he and Midthunder flew to Arizona to model for the calendar shoot in Arizona.

“Our goal with the shoot was to have fun with it,” Queypo said. “They took us to some beautiful locations with amazing Southwest backdrops and great weather. We sort of shot from the hip, as far as the choice of clothing and posing. We did what was natural and interesting. I believe that shooting in front of a still camera is very similar to telling a story with moving pictures, except the story is told in ‘still moments.’ I tried to approach the shoot with a back-story, complete with motivation and movement. I think Mihio did a great job

at capturing interesting moments that can subjectively tell many different stories.”

Also pictured are model and actor Bryan Whish, Wichita, and Means’ friend, Annan Maxfield, Navajo/Tohono O’odham.

“We are searching for men from a variety of tribes, and we want a selection of guys with diverse looks,” Manus said. “There is no cash payment for this project, so the guys are primarily doing the work for exposure.”

Seven models participated in the 2006 calendar, but this year there are already more submissions than there are months.

Submissions will be accepted through the end of April, with finalists selected on the basis of their accomplishments first, then their appearance.

“We’ll get a few ladies together and see what their cup of tea is,” Manus said.

Models will travel to Arizona in May for photo sessions with Mihio Manus, a Navajo photojournalist and NAU photography professor, whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including “Native Peoples Magazine.”

Customer feedback is being incorporated for the 2007 production. For instance, quite a few women have requested pictures of older men, Manus said. The publishers also intend to broaden the theme to include Native musicians and athletes.

Viewfinder Photographs is accepting sample pictures and background information from Native male entertainers who are well-known in Indian country for the 2007 edition, targeted for August.

The calendars are available at Shush Yaz Trading Co. on the Navajo Reservation; at the Denver, Phoenix and Albuquerque airports; and online at www.Viewfinder

photographs.com. Prospective models may e-mail pictures and resume to mrsviewfinder@yahoo.com.